2006-10-27

Blizzard Day

Wednesday was sunny and in the 50s. But there was talk of a blizzard.
It seems it was a rare case of a large amount of moisture coming up from the south at the same time as a cold from coming down from the North. Around 12" were expected in my area. But it was also supposed to be very windy - making that unusual amount of snow even more troublesome. Work sent out a note during the day that we should check the weather line before attempting to go into work.

Well, about 11pm, the wind started picking up, but no snow.
In the morning, I got up before 7. There was a lot of snow on the ground. The wind was blowing. It was still snowing. I called work's weather line. It said, work at 10, call again to be sure. Called later, the message said work at 12, call again to be sure. I called again - work was closed for the day.

I had slept a lot of the morning. Boy did I need it. I went out for a short walk during lunchtime, to take some pictures (see below). I was well chilled in just a few short minutes. It was at the edge of freezing. The streets, where they were plowed, looked passable - but treacherous. I heard of a number of people getting stuck just from snow being too deep under the car. So I was glad I stayed home.

I watched a bunch of TV. I even fell back asleep for more than an afternoon.

I watch 'In the Cut' Robin Williams. Then I watched a CSI. Then I watched the 'Butterfly Effect' - an interesting twist on time travel. I have the sequel to watch yet. I watched another CSI before going to sleep. I was a little depressed. Of the 3 TV stations I get from antenna, there was one that was off the air, probably due to the weather: CBS. Unluckily, that was the only station I really watch. My VCR was set to record 2 shows: survivor & the original CSI (the best of the franchise, IMHO). So I left my VCR on so it would not record dead air. I am bummed that I missed both shows. I hope the station is back in time to tape Numb3rs.

Tonight I go see Blue Man Group with some friends.

Tomorrow I have 2 Halloween parties. The first is geocaching-related, and I am getting the boys for a few hours even though it is not my weekend, to take them. Then after I drop them back at their house, I have another party I'll go to for a little while.

Hopefully I'll get some geocaching this weekend. 'Geocaching?' you ask. 'With more than a foot of snow?' Well, you see today is sunny and in the 50s, and that is the forecast for the next few days as well. So it should be well melted in most places soon. I'd expect the roads to be mostly melted - and dry! - by this afternoon.

2006-10-23

Trip to Vail

So about 3 or 4 weeks ago, I got a call on my cell phone. It was about a timeshare place up near Vail. It turns out some geocache friends had given them my name and number. As first I was going to be upset at the friends for giving out my cell phone number and just tell the timeshare people not to bother me.

But I decided to listen to the pitch. They were willing to let me bring the boys. So I thought, what the heck? It would be a change of pace for a weekend. So I let them come tell me about the setup and the deal. I talked about going through a divorce. It did not seem to phase the person giving me the details.

So the plan was for this past weekend. An overnight Oct 21-22. I figured we might get to see some bright fall colors up in the mounts and maybe even get a bunch of geocaches.

Friday - the highway to Vail got a lot of snow. That didn't bode too well - but I didn't fret it too much. Saturday morning, I checked the web-cams. Snow along the road - but the roads looked mostly or completely clear. So after a quick errand, we hit the road. I stopped for fuel in Castle Rock. On the road up from Castle Rock, my car started handling oddly. I pulled over. The right-read tire was most of the way flat. A quick change of tires. Then up to Castle Pines - to get air in the spare. It had enough air to get me to the next exit. Once it had air, it was fine. There was no place the whole weekend that I could get the tire fixed in a reasonable time - so I still have to get it fixed.

We had lunch in Castle Pines. At first it was going to be pizza - but I realized with the rate of service - it would be forever to do that. So I went next door to Subway.

Then we drove towards Vail. It looked like there was some snow going on North of us, as we threaded our way into the mountains at the outskirts of Denver. But overall we did very well. The weather varied from clear to snow-showers to cloudy and back.

I tried pulling over a few times to get a geocache - but none of the spots seemed very accessible. They all seemed like they were up a mountain.

The only place there was some accumulation was going over Vail pass - before Vail. We stopped at the rest area to stretch. The kids enjoyed finding some very large icicles hanging from the building. There was a small amount of snow-ball fight before we got back into the car.

Well, the place we were staying was in the next town after Vail, called Avon. We were being put up in a small hotel across the street from the tall timeshare. We were told that there was a pool, so I made sure the kids had bathing suits.

We checked in. The younger boys wanted to go swimming - even though it was an outdoor pool. But it was heated. But it turned out I forgot my bathing suit! My eldest loan me his suit for the afternoon dunk. He enjoyed a little quiet time while I took the younger boys swimming.

Dinner - we looked for a decent place - but wound up settling for McDonald in Vail.

The next morning, I get a call in the hotel room. It is the sales guy from the timeshare. First he admits they are overbooked. I am worried they would ask me to stay longer - as I'm already figuring it is as late as I am comfortable with. Then he asks if he heard correctly that I am going through a divorce. I said yes. He then said his lawyer told him that he could not buy anything when he had his divorce. I said, yes, I could not agree to buy anything this weekend, but would be glad to look and consider it in the future. He told me that I could look at the papers I was given. They would send me the stuff they promised. But that I didn't have to take the tour. I could tell the guy was disappointed that I'd been signed up when he would not have a shot at selling me something there and then.

This was fine news to me. A free night stay - and no pressure to make the tour and no pressure to resist for buying.
I drove over to the new Wal-Mart and bought a bathing suit. We went back and spent an hour or so in the pool. It was strange - as the air was right about freezing - but the water in the pool - was pool temperature. My nose and ears got a little cold a few times, but otherwise it was a lot of fun. Getting out was a little hard with that level of cold, but we managed.

We checked out and started back. I really wanted to do at least one Geocache before we left the area. It turns out the only relatively convenient one was one a short hike from the new Wal-Mart. A micro. And the log was soaking wet. But I manage to do a minimal log entry using an erasermate.

We kept looking for a good place to eat. We made very good time coming back from Vail. We would up driving all the way back to town before we stopped for a late, big lunch. The we had some afternoon left. Watch a video. Then we went out and played some sports until it got dark and late. We play frisbee, waffle ball, hula-hoop toss - and variations of games with all the toys we brought out with us.

The kids seemed to have enjoyed the change of pace going up to Vail. I got home, and had a piece of mail from a different timeshare place. Hmm - can I afford another flat tire? :)

2006-09-14

Balloon Festival 2006

I went to the balloon festival again this year.
I got up early Saturday - it was too wet to even set up the balloons - much less launch them.
I got up early Sunday - it wasn't as wet - but the cloud cover was too low to launch. I did get a bunch of pictures of the balloons set up on the ground. Then I had to run off to meet up with another geocacher to do an group hunt. It was nice, as he had a 4x4, so we got to do some mountain ones that I wouldn't normally try.
Monday I wasn't sure if I would get up early. I was tired. Yet, I managed to get up pretty early anyhow - but not quite as early as the 2 previous days. I headed down to the balloon festival. I was still a couple of miles away when I could see about a dozen balloons already in the sky! They were launching!
I got down there and managed to take a whole lot of pictures. A whole lot!
I'm going to post one now. I'll see about posting more later.

2006-08-11

Apartment Life

Well, I'm all moved in.
a little more than 2 weeks ago, I got the keys.
The first weekend I started moving in. It was also my first official weekend with the boys. And it was my birthday weekend. And it was hot - Sunday broke a record.

Well I decided to not work the whole weekend. I did work most of the weekend. But I took the boys out to eat most of the meals - as a birthday/moving treat. We also went to the movies. And there were a couple of shopping trips - I got a futon (bed/couch) at WalMart. And we went in the pool at my new apartment complex. The good news is that the pool is really close to my apartment. The bad news is that the people on the first floor like to smoke outside :(
The boys slept over Saturday night, and pretty much seemed to enjoy it.

I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment. I got the 3rd floor so I have a vaulted ceiling from the dining room, going up in the living room. It even had a wood-burning fireplace!

It is at the bottom of a hill, along a stream. Which means a bit buggy, by Colorado standards. Which would mean not very buggy by East-Coast standards :)

I had taken Monday off, to have my birthday off from work. But I wound up moving most of that day too. I only made 2.5 trips that day, but I had a lot of organizing to do. I also did some cleaning to be nice. I vacuumed up the 'study' after I moved out all I considered mine. I left behind the DVD 'Red October'. That was a grey area. I knew she liked it, and we picked it up on a shopping trip together.

It took me another car load Tuesday evening to pretty much finish it up. There was a theorectical possibility of taking the boys one evening during the week. But I declined, because the apartment was just way too cluttered. It would have been hard for the boys to get to their beds, and there was not a lot of room to move around.

Last weekend on Saturday, I went up to Denver for a geocaching event. I did some geocaching with a couple of other geocachers I knew. Then I did a few more on my own afterwards. I broke my 1-day record. In the past, I'd done 6-in-a-day twice. Saturday I did 7 caches - 8 including the event. That isn't much compared to a lot of serious cachers - but it was pretty good for me. Especially since I didn't get started until late morning to head up.

Sunday was my day to get the apartment more organized. I started setting up shelves and stacking boxes in a more organized fashion. I set up a shelf right where I come in the door. I wasn't really happy with the location, but it was where I had space. I told myself I could always move it after I got more organized. I finally got the bed frame set up, so I wasn't sleeping on the mattress on the floor. This also gave me some storage space under the bed.

Last night I decided to move the second plastic shelf from the living room to my bedroom. It is a good thing I have a single bed, as the whole other wall is storage right now. I am also storing stuff where a washer and dryer could go. But for the moment, I do not need a store room. I plan to try to organize the stuff in the boxes better - but mostly that isn't a rush.

I'm getting a chance to catch up on movies on DVD a bit, which is nice. I actually have not made it back in the pool but once since the boys were over. There were a couple of days that were really hot during the day - but by the time I got home from work, there were thunderstorms rolling through the area.

Another nice thing about the apartment is air-conditioning. Yes, you don't usually need a lot of air-conditioning in Colorado, but there are times it comes in handy. And even more so in an apartment complex. So I've been enjoying the airconditioning. But I've been trying to remember to set back my thermostat during the day. Usually I remember. But I think it will pay off for me to by an automatic set-back thermostat.

Tonight I get the boys for my first real weekend with them. My eldest has an event that will keep him busy for most of the day Saturday. But I have to drive him around as well. Other than perhaps a little geocaching, I haven't decided what to do with the boys. I am pretty sure there is a new kids movie or 2 we could hit.

My eldest asked to have a blanket to keep at my apartment. I was glad to do that for him. I asked him what kind he wanted. He described something similar to the blanket he has now. He is very attached to his blanket. It turns out his blanket and mine are a matched set - from New Jersey. He inherited my wife's old one a long time ago, when she upgraded. His blanket was not in great shape, and I'd offered him mine a few times, but he declined. Well, when I offered him mine this time, for use in my apartment, he seemed happy with the idea. While my blanket was not in as bad shape as his, it was definitely showing it's age too. It was looking torn at a couple of the edges. So I got out my cheap sewing kit - it actually had been a dollar store item I'd planned on adding to a new geocache. But instead I kept it aside when I moved. I put in a DVD movie, and started sewing. Okay, so my 43-yo eyes were showing their age. I used to be able to see-and-thread a needle pretty easily. Well, in spite of my sight not being as good, I still managed to have the instinct for threading the needle. Which worked out well - as I had to thread it about 8 or 12 times. It seems the seams were torn at all 4 corners, and had started to tear even further on 2 of the corners. I am no expert sewer, but I think I did a pretty good job. It took the whole movie and all the extra features (but not watching the movie again with commentary) to sew up the blanket. But it is ready for him. I also bought him a new pillow too. I figure he deserves that and perhaps a bit more - because overall he was a big help when I moved. He carried a number of loads with little complaint - and helped out with his brothers a lot.

Enough rambling for now :)

2006-07-24

Announcement

I have not done much blogging lately - and I've really let this one go for a long time.
Part of that is that I've been spending a lot of free time and energy on geocaching. And to that end, I've done some blogging on a sub-blog about geocaching.

But the other issue that was most worth talking about, I did not feel it was appropriate to air on this forum. That issue was that my marriage was going through some difficult times. The conclusion was finally reached a number of weeks back, but the official things are starting to happen now.

I have filed for divorce. I am going to be moving into my own apartment about 2 miles away, probably this week. It is in the same zip-code and school district.

Being a child of divorce, the decision was extremely difficult for me to make. But my wife and I have grown apart, and just can't seem to find enough common ground on some important issues.

Yes, there are a lot of issues. I am sure we both could point out how everything is the other spouse's fault. And it would be very easy for me to list a whole lot of things that upset me. But that path leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the dark side. :) The whole thing is hard enough without a dark side. So I will not talk about blame or any of the details here. Besides, I don't think it is all her fault. I know I am in part responsible.

I am responsible for giving up on my marriage when I know it will really be hard for my children in the short run. But I have hope that it is better for them in the long run. I am doing what I can to try to make it easier for them in the short run as well.

Wish me luck! :)

2006-04-24

Geocaching - My Clean-up Event

I ran my second geocaching event yesterday. The last one was just a general get-together. This one was a special clean-up event.
The main geocache site, geocaching.com, promotes both regular clean-up whenever caching and a special day once a year for a major international clean-up on Earth day. They call the clean-up a CITO, for Cache-In, Trash-Out.
During my first event, a number of people in the area indicated they would prefer a clean-up event that did not occur on the Earth-day on Saturday. Many people can't make Saturday events. Also by having it on a different day, it would allow Geocachers to do the Earth-day/Saturday event up in Denver on Saturday and then do another one on Sunday.

It took me a few tries - but I got in touch with the parks department. They asked where I would like to clean up. I figured with all the different places that I knew people would be coming from, that somewhere around downtown Colorado Springs heading West towards Manatou Springs would be pretty centralized. They had just the spot - a new trail called Midland Trail, which literally starts at the edge of downtown and heads 2 miles West paralleling the highway that leads to Manatou Springs.
It seems the parks department doesn't like geocaching very much. There is an uneasy truce with the parks department now - for most parks, they pretend that there aren't geocaches placed against the rules. I hope this puts us on better standing with them.

One end of the trail starts at a new park and playground, near downtown. When I checked out the trail it wasn't that dirty, but it seemed like there was some to clean up. It seemed to make sense to start at the other end of the trail and work towards the playground - that way the kids would have something to look forward to. It turned out well, as there was a pavilion that we were able to get out of the sun while we visited and had an prize ceremony.

I planned the event to start at noon - I chose a restaurant - I was in the mood for a burrito, so I chose a Chipotle restaurant downtown a few blocks from the park.
Then I had people meet at 1:30 at the park, to carpool over to the other end of the trail starting about 1:45 - with the clean up starting at 2:00.
I posted that the clean up would end at 3:30 and that would be the prize time. Afterwards people could get a ride back to the vehicles left at the other end.

As usual, I didn't give myself quite enough prep time - and overslept the morning of the event. But my wife helped cover some of the coordination, so I was able to set up the contest at the last minute - by riding my bike up the trail and meeting everyone at the western end right at 2:00.
As I looked up the street, I saw a group that looked at least twice as big as I expected heading for the trail. This was so cool!

I stayed behind to help get the western trailhead clean at first. Then I headed up the trail, with a cooler of water bottles, hand cleaner and extra trash bags - on a luggage cart. I caught up with a rear group of 4. They were spending a lot of time really getting the trail clean. They were surprised at how much the main group had left. I guess my contest backfired a little, as a large part of the group was just going for points. Oh, well - it added to the fun. And it made me appreciate those who worked harder. I had a few points that I hadn't used up, so I was able to place it so the rear guard got some too :)

My middle boy came back to get me and get some water about halfway. I was surprised, as I thought he was with my eldest. But I was glad to have his company. We did some more cleaning and some more points, then we moved on to get to the end of the trail. There was one spot that I wished I could have spent a little more time cleaning small trash - but I was getting hot and wanted to make it back to the park in time. I got to the pavilion in the park 1 minute early - I'd said 3:30, and I was there at 3:29. I was amazed at how well the timing worked out. I'd just given rough guesses for timing - but it all worked fantastically!

I would say that the second event I have run was as big a success if not more. Reading the log entries that people wrote, I was proud and satisfied with how it went.

My geocaching blog entry about the log entries that others made
My geocaching blog entry about the event, and my log entry, with pictures

2006-04-06

Laptop Sound

I've been living without sound on my Toshiba laptop since last summer.
When I opened it up, I found the sound card was this tiny board, maybe 2 inches by a half inch. And it has this plug-in to the motherboard. The connector on the motherboard had come loose. Considering that plugging in earphones would cause mechanical stress on this top board, it almost seems inevitable that this connector would break on the motherboard or sound card. This should have been right on the motherboard or connected with a ribbon connector. There are a number of other ribbon connectors in the laptop, so it is already a workable solution.

At first it just worked oddly - sometimes the sound would work, sometimes it would make odd noises - sometimes it didn't work. And of course this happened after the unit was out of warranty. I can only imagine that if I took it in to be fixed, the answer would be to replace the motherboard. A motherboard and labor - I can only imagine this would cost nearly as much as a new laptop.

So I opened it up. I was able to get it to work again twice before. But both times, it stopped working. The last time I tried, I couldn't get it to work again. And the track-pointer has been acting oddly since then. Good thing I use an external mouse with it most of the time.

There was another solution. Not too long ago, they started selling a PC/MCIA (laptop card port) sounds card. But all the sites listed the cost at around $100 dollars. At best I've seen low $90s before shipping. Most weekends I browse the tech-store circulars. I never got to it this past weekend.

Last night I was running some errands. I'd offered to pick up raffle tickets for the next geocache meeting. I figured an office store would be a good bet. I stopped in at the local OfficeMax. With a little help, I found the raffle tickets. Boy that is a big roll! It should keep us busy through 2020. On my way down the isles, I peaked at the cabinet where they keep computer add-in cards. I looked for the laptop sound card. I'd been hoping that at some point before next month that the card would drop down $10. We want to set up a lan party on the side at my son's big birthday party. My computer needs working sound for that.
Looking in the case, I spot the card. It has a yellow sale tag. Down from $99.99, Down to $54.99. Wow! That is a fantastic deal! So I grabbed the next sales person and asked him to get it out for me.

I got it home and installed it. It took a long time to install all the software it wanted to add. Then I had to reboot. There was a break to read some bed-time stories. Then I got back and logged back on. I plugged in the earphone. Nothing. Tried the other port. Ahh - SOUND!!! Yay!!!

The laptop built-in sound had a nice feature, a little thumb-wheel to control the volume. With the new card, it is only soft settings. Also, of course, the card is not able to play through the built-in speakers. I'd figured on that - and that I'll have to open it up and hack into the speakers, putting a little plug wire in for the card. The only other choice is external speakers. Maybe for the lan-party I'll do that - but not for a long term solution.

There is one more drawback. While the card itself is standard type-1 height (a type-1 card is usually small enough that 2 type-1 cards can fit in a standard laptop) - then end of the card is bigger. It has to sit in the lower half of the slot, and doesn't leave enough room for a second card. I already have a card that I used to download my memory card for my digital pictures. This means that now I will have to swap out the sound card to load the picture card into my laptop.

But it is worth it to get sound again from my laptop! I tried a DVD. I know in theory that it should play a DVD, but I didn't know if there were any issues. It played the DVD - the sound was much louder. This is good news if I want to watch a movie on a plane. And now I can use it as a T-Pod again if I want to.

T-Pod - my version of an iPod. Putting my laptop in it's backpack as a training weight for hiking, and being able to use it as a hard drive-MP3 player.

2006-04-03

The Tax Man Comith

For a change we got our taxes done early. Early being 2 weeks before the deadline. The last 2 years, things were crazy enough that we wound up filing extensions.

But this year we did our taxes on the most appropriate day of the year: April Fools Day - April 1st. Somehow it seems appropriate to me. I'm just not sure who is being made a bigger fool. Trying to read tax code, I think it is me!

I'm not big on April Fools. It seems way too easy for people to be unnecessarily mean - and it seems like meanness can only escalate until someone gets upset.

The one little joke I played was I told my son he didn't have to clear the table. When he asked 'really', I replied 'April Fools'. That is about as far as I like to go. No long suspense. No elaborate lies. No major emotional plays. Just a tiny bit of quick teasing once.

2006-04-02

New Fab Four?

I was musing about 'The Who' Music used on CSI and on the reference to the guy on the show who was collection famous dead people's picture, saying that he was going to put it next to his Entwistle. I laughed at the connection between the musician from the group that does their theme music.

And it reminded me of the morbid joke about getting the Beatles back together, when there were still 3 of them. The joke went it would take 3 more bullets. Ouch :)

Then I realize both The Beatles and The Who are down 2 members. So between the 2 groups they have just the right number to make a new fab-four group. :)

Then the topic became what would the new group be called?
I think the best that came up was The Weavels.

A little hard - a little soft - introducing those new old guys from the UK: The Weavels! :)

2006-03-31

Gecaching Adventure This Week

I started a new blog for my geocaching adventures. My first real entry on this blog was describing geocacing in some detail for those who want to understand it a bit better.

Today I wrote up about a geocaching adventure that started with trying to figure out a puzzle a few weeks ago - comparing notes with other geocachers last week - then trying to find it Sunday - and going back again Thursday afternoon to try again: GCC276 Away Team Mission

2006-03-19

Sunday - Almost Spring

Had to take my big guy to a Jewish-youth group activity this afternoon. Went down to the skating place. They said - we don't know about that activity. Could it be at our other location [5 minutes back they way we came]? They called - it was. I didn't even know they had a second location. It is laid out almost identically.
They play the music very loud at both places. Too loud for my little guys. My big guy asked what they called it - I said slow-ear-drum-damaging level.

I took the little guys out for some geocaching. I didn't have all my notes with me - but I did have a lot loaded into my GPS. The first one I couldn't find - but as it was just a fake coordinate for a puzzle cache, it is not suprising we couldn't find it. I had my laptop along with a number of the geocache sites pre-loaded on my drive. So I was able to find another couple to try right nearby. We parked near a dog-run, and headed for a micro first. I don't like this smallest size geocache very much, as they can be really, really hard to find. But this one was rated the easist - and it was easy! I went up to the tree my GPS pointed at, and circled it once - there was nothing promising. Then I looked at the tree right next to the first one. I noticed a noce size stone that just looked placed. I bent down, and flipped up the rock, and there it was! :) Signed the log and put it back.
Then the three of us headed up the hill to a small cache. I was hoping to be able to let the kids do a little trading, and hand off a travelbug I got in Denver. We got to the top, and the GPS pointed donw some rocks. I looked in some cracks and crevaces. The GPS was now pointing back up. So we sent up. Then down a crack. The back around. Then back up. I even scaled some rocks, about 10 feet up on one side. No luck. After abotu 15 minutes, I gave up. I promised the boys some time on the nearby playground before we had to pick up the big boy.

The weather was wild today. When we left to go to the skating rink, it was snowing, just a bit slushy. There was also a very loud thunderclap just before we left. A snow-thunderstorm. Unusual, but certainly not uncommon I'd heard. Considering it was slushy, I wondered aloud if it was rain downtown. As we got closer to downtown, I was proven wrong. It was sunny. When I was geocaching with the 2 younger boys, we left our jackets in the car. It was still a bit cool, but the sun was warm. As we went over to the playground, it got windy, cloudy and really cool. Then we stopped by my wife's job on the way back home. We were talking about summer camps with another family we do a lot of stuff with. We left ot head home about 5pm. As we got home, it started hailing, with some thunder and lightning. Small, slushy hail. It kept going until there was more than a 1/4" coating the ground. It stiched to snow, then stopped. I wonder if it will be sunny and clear tomorrow morning - or a snow day. Either way, I bet it is sunny, warm and clear by the afternoon.

2006-02-20

Numb3rs, GPS, Apollogy and More

So this past week's episode of Numb3rs seemed to be designed specifically to refute my previous log entry where I said GPS is not part of cell phones.

It seems I was wrong. I am sorry Numb3rs for my misunderstanding.

According to the show, it seems that when the decided that for emergency purposes, that cell phones should be trackable, the didn't use triangulation from cell towers. The actually put a tiny GPS chip inside all modern cell phones.

Wow.

So I guess they were right when they said they used GPS with the phone. Of course, in the episode, the person was in a library. Inside buildings is a very poor place for GPS reception, so I still have some doubts.

Then a very short while later it hit me. There is a GPS inside most everyone cell phone. And they don't let you use it! It would be so simple to show locations and do some simple coordinates on a cell phone. The data is already there. It would only take a simple program! Man - think of all the people who could be geocaching!!

2006-02-08

Dish Rant

I opened my Dish (satellite TV) bill last night. In the last year it has jumped $10.00.

First it went from $21.99 for the low-end channel package to $23.99. Suddenly the package has a new name, and costs $31.99.

This is the same crap the cable companies pulled, and why we wound up going with Dish. One of Dish's major selling strategies was to point out how the cable companies were treating people badly. Now they are doing the exact same thing.

We will have to talk to them and let them know that we are not pleased. If they cannot drop the cost way back down, I think it is time to get rid of dish.

I don't watch much broadcast TV. I am pretty sure I can get most of what I watch with an antenna. I'll miss MythBusters. But I could buy the season DVD for MythBusters and have a whole lot of money left over after canceling Dish.

And MythBusters is neat to watch. But they have so many repeats. And spend a bunch of new episodes filled with old material. It is like they only show new episodes during sweep months.

Of course that means the PVR would no longer work, as it is dish-only. Frustrating.

NUMB3RS, GPS and Cell-Phones

I've been watching the last few episodes of the TV show Numb3rs. It is pretty good. It is nice to see a positive view of techy stuff on TV. We need to promote the sciences. And they do a very good job of not getting way too techy. If anything, they are pretty good at explaining some advanced math concepts so that an average person can get a feel for the concepts. I think I get to thank my sister for recommending the show :)

Watching the last episode, from this past Friday, I was taken a bit back. Here is a show that is trying to tech about the science of math, and they made a really careless error. They were talking about tracking a cell-phone. The cell-phone in question was used right near the investigators - and they say the GPS showed it was on campus.

The GPS? Cell phones don't have GPS! GPS isn't how they track where cell phones are!

They both use a similar methodology - triangulation. But a GPS receiver listens to 3 or more satellites in orbit to calculate it's position, and does not transmit anything.

A cell phone is tracked by what cell it is in - and if 3 cells can pick up a cell phone, that information can be used to triangulate the position of the cell phone. The ability was added mostly due to wanting to be able to pinpoint emergency calls.

The fact is that a cell phone does not have to make a call to be tracked. A cell phone will register itself when on to local cell towers. That is how the cell companies can immediately route a call to a specific cell-phone.

And more, this triangulation is being used for more than emergency use. Some cities are subscribing to cell-phone data to help track traffic. It seems many cars on the roads have cell-phones on board. Not making calls, just turned on. And they can use the data from the cell phones to calculate the speed of a significant fraction of the cars from this data. And they can tell when traffic is slowing or stopped - just because so many people have cell phones.

This is not the kind of mistake I would expect from a techy show. Of course, they would probably blame it on the fact that the character that said it is not one of the geeks.

It is interesting that people are worried that a GPS will rat on where they are, and never realize that their cell phone already does it. Yet a normal GPS cannot report on where you have been, unless you link it and download the data afterwards.

But there is a GPS device that does report back where you are. And it uses a cell-phone to report on you. The on-star system in 'select' GM cars. The core part of the on-star system is a GPS that uses an old analog cell-phone built in to report on your position.

And some rental cars are starting to have GPS units that can report in, either live, or as a report when you check-in.

Technology is wild. Big brother *is* watching! But what is he watching, and what is he doing with that data.

I noticed online that there is a horror movie coming out soon. It is based on GPS and geocaching - and is supposed to be based on a true story. I get the feeling that this will put a dark blotch on geocaching and GPS. Shame.

2006-01-31

Google Maps - Something Different

I found something different today moon.google.com

Like Google maps, but showing the moon landings. I was curious if I could see any signs of human activity at the closest zoom - don't miss it!

2006-01-18

Geocaching Meet in Colorado Springs

I am in the process of making a group for geocaching in the Colorado Springs area:
Pikes Peak Geocaching

I know, not very original, but it describes things decently. I like it better than Southern Colorado Geocaching.

Right now, I'm just trying to get a group get-together going for next month. So far, the response has been very positive from other local geocachers I've emailed with in the last few days.

The first challenge is finding a place to meet. If nothing else, we can always descend on the food court of the Northern Mall. I was hoping for something a little more conducive to pleasant conversation. So that may mean finding a restaurant. But that then puts an obligation to pay for food to the attendees. I would prefer not to do that for the first meeting.

If all goes well, I may try to turn it into a more formal group - like they have up in Denver. We will have to see. If nothing else, it is something more to do with my Geocaching obsession.

To the end of the meet and possible group, I've set up subdomains on my domain:
ppgc.kah731.com or pikespeakgc.kah731.com or pikespeakgeocaching.kah731.com or geocaching.kah731.com - they all point to the same page.